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How to navigate working and living in a renovation project

Wondering if you can still work and live through your renovation project? We give you insight on what you’ll be facing.

6 min read

The plans have been drawn up, the paperwork has been signed, and you've shaken hands with your chosen contractors. It feels like your vision is about to materialise, and then construction begins. However you approach your home renovation journey, you'll unlikely get through it without disruption or worry. If moving home is up there with the most stressful life events, then deciding to have that home renovated will naturally stir feelings of uncertainty until it’s finished. 

And, beyond the emotional gymnastics of having construction work done, the practicalities can feel like a logistical minefield - not to mention the hassle and upheaval of surprise setbacks that are all too common. We get it. And while we can't control everything, we can be a guiding force through the chaos. In this article, we draw on our experience of managing over 6000 home renovations to round up our top survival tips for living and working at home through your project.

Should I stay or should I go? 

Home renovations leave little room for delaying the big decisions, and this is a prime example of one you’ll be expected to make right off the bat. Charlotte Costa, Head of Growth at RESI, chose not to stay at home during her renovation: “It would have been very complicated to stay as we were having the whole house redone. We rented a flat during the build which meant we escaped the dust and chaos. But the downsides were that we had to pay rent as well as paying our mortgage, and also I had to visit the site nearly every day to make sure that everything was proceeding as planned.”The decision to stay put or stay out of the way while your project is in motion hinges on several factors but, most importantly:

Home insurance. Standard home insurance generally only covers small renovations and doesn’t count for properties left unoccupied for 30+ days. Every plan varies, but it’s crucial to understand your options. We recommend checking in with the experts at Renovation Plan to find out if you’re protected and, if not, what to do next.

• Mess. Every single renovation creates lots of dust and dirt. Whichever area of your home is being worked on, it’ll cause disruption. This can be particularly challenging if you have little ones returning from school who’ll need space for homework, playing and eating. This means either you'll have to ask the builders to stop early or figure out an alternative plan to counter the most disruptive parts of the build.

• Space. Consider whether there’s realistically enough room for construction work to go on around you without builders overstepping your boundaries or you getting in the way of progress. If you have enough space to squirrel away in the background, read on for best practices to prepare. If construction looks to be a real squeeze, consider asking loved ones for a place to escape or – if that’s not an option – whether you can foot the bill for a temporary abode.

• Cost. Home renovations can be a struggle for those of us who can’t fork out for a sublet, a month of Airbnbing or a harmonious hotel stay while our building work is underway. We highly recommend a slice of respite if you can afford it. However, if accommodation costs are too high alongside the price of your project, ask friends and family for occasional stays and time away from a house that's in complete disarray – it's very wearing to have a house that's dirty and where nothing is where it should be.

• Work. Depending on your job, construction work in your home can be highly disruptive – for one, you’ll have to decide if you can focus with a jackhammer blaring in the background. It’s essential to plan and question whether you’ll be able to work as productively as you’d like. In our experience, if you can take some time off: do! If annual leave isn’t an option, consider alternative places to work rather than home– your office, a shared working space or a local coffee shop. Culture Whisper has rounded up London’s Coolest Co-working Spaces for those of you that reside in the capital. Creative Boom has made a UK-wide list for those of you further afield to help you choose where to pitch up next. 

Staying at home during your home renovation

So, you’ve decided to stay put throughout your home renovation. You’re brave and we admire you – that being said, you’ll want to prepare for the worst so you’re ready for anything. We’ve outlined some of our top tips for laying the groundwork for as smooth a renovation ride as possible:

• Minimise chaos. Make things as simple as possible by clearing the way for construction. This means decluttering ruthlessly so your builders have plenty of space to get to work and all your important possessions are kept safe from damage. Our best advice is to get rid of plenty, safely tuck away as much as possible and store what you can in loved ones’ homes or temporary storage.

• Get covered. Home renovations will create dust in areas of your home you didn’t think it was possible to reach. Given the chance, dust will get caught in hidden cupboard corners and stay there until long after the work is complete. Protect your furniture and other important items with liberal use of dust sheets. And, if you’re on a tight budget, use old bedsheets.

• Invest in noise-cancelling headphones. We can’t stress this enough: renovations are loud. If you’re working from home, you may struggle to focus for even a short period of time unless you wear noise-cancelling headphones. You’ll soon find that you can’t go without them. Not sure which to choose? Tech Radar have rounded up their favourites to narrow down the decision. 
Home renovation work

Retaining a sense of control during your renovation

If there’s ever a time you wish you could see into the future, it’ll be while your home is under construction. Building work is notoriously unpredictable and renowned for curveballs, delays and unexpected costs. And, while you can’t control everything, there are steps you can take to maximise oversight of your project, so you’re never left clutching at straws. Here’s what you can control:

• Plan with Resi. If you’re thinking about embarking on an extension, book a free advice call with one of our consultants. Fill them in on your conditions, ideas, inspirations and worries, and they’ll come back with no-nonsense advice. And if you choose to work with us, we'll be there to help every step of the way.

• Keep track. Use the Resi dashboard to view a detailed timeline of your project’s progress and spending in one place. While you can’t control each moving part directly, this tool offers you an invaluable bird’s eye view that can help you feel that you know what’s going on.

• Actively seek calm. Home renovations – with their slippery rules, shaky timelines and loose budgets – can prove incredibly stressful even for the most relaxed individuals. With over 6000 renovations under our belt, we get it. Putting your home into someone else’s hands is possibly the most personal thing you can do, so it’s no wonder renovations spark anxiety. The mental health charity Mind has fantastic resources for recognising, understanding and combating stress. Check in with yourself and consider activities that can reduce your stress levels, like guided meditation with Headspace or having a quick phone call with a friend. 

Living in a renovation

Undergoing construction is a big leap but the results can make for a truly happy home – explore some of our completed projects to keep you focused on the end result.

Use our Quick Quote calculator to get speedy insights into how much your renovation project could cost.

Which part of your property would you like to extend?

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Can you live in house and renovate?

Yes, but if you decide to stay while renovating you’ll need to prepare for it: clear the way and declutter, protect your furniture, invest in noise-cancelling headphones.

Where to stay while your house is renovated?

You can stay at your house while renovating, but if you want to escape the chaos, you can rent a flat or live at a relative’s house while the renovation takes place.

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